Algeria Country Report
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is in poor health and there is no clear cemented legacy prior to succession. His sidelining of the formerly powerful intelligence establishment, presented as a transition to civil democracy, should more accurately be considered as consolidating political power in a single centre, the presidency, backed by the army. Lower oil revenues and a failure to diversify economically away from energy undermine the state's ability to contain protest risks through social spending. Improvements to the business environment are likely to accelerate given fiscal pressures, although radical change is unlikely. Algerian security forces have effectively reduced the domestic jihadist threat, but the risk of jihadist penetration from Libya, Mali, and Tunisia is high.
Although legal barriers to non-hydrocarbon investment are likely to gradually be reduced in the next two years in an attempt to attract FDI, the state will maintain control over strategic sectors such as energy, automotive and steel. Foreign investments are at risk of expropriation in the event of disputes with the government, or if they fail to perform to expectations. Administrative inefficiency, corruption, and an overburdened legal system pose obstacles for business. Strikes commonly affect the public sector, particularly the education and healthcare sectors.
Counter-terrorism operations have restricted the operational reach of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Islamic State affiliates in the northeastern Kabylie region. These groups probably lack the capability to undertake an attack in a major city, instead focusing on localised attacks targeting the security forces, kidnap for ransom and small-scale extortion of locals. In the southern desert, jihadist groups based in the border areas of Mali, Tunisia, and Libya retain the capability to penetrate into Algeria to carry out attacks, primarily against energy facilities. Since the In Amenas Tigantourine gas facility attack in 2013, Algeria has increased considerably its security measures nationwide, particularly at strategic plants.
Algeria places high emphasis on securing its more than 6,000-km border areas, particularly against jihadist penetration with from Libya, Mauritania, Mali, and Niger. Algeria's established military doctrine excludes deployment on operations outside Algeria and gives primacy to enhancing frontier security. Consequently, regional security co-operation remains weak, although Algeria has stepped up security co-operation with neighbouring states; for instance, jointly co-ordinating intelligence collection with Tunisian forces in the border area, which was reinforced throughout 2017 and 2018. On the Libyan side, co-operation is problematic, given the prevalence of competing militias there and the absence of any effective state military forces.
Triggers of mass social unrest generally include material factors, such as housing or unemployment, rather than any particular political agenda. Nonetheless, the 2014 presidential election also gathered hundred-strong protests nationwide. Grievances over public services and quality of infrastructure prompt frequent localised protests, which tend to be small in scale. Violent protests and riots usually involve unco-ordinated groups and urban youths with little interaction from politicised opposition groups or labour unions, allowing them to be easily contained. Political stability would begin to be threatened if protests coincided with a disputed presidential succession or the emergence of co-ordinated anti-austerity protests.
Vaccines Required to Enter the Country
Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Algeria. However, the government of Algeria requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.
Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers
Malaria: There is a low risk of contracting malaria. As such, doctors usually advise travelers to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites rather than prescribing antimalarial medications.
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
Algeria is highly vulnerable to floods. In 2001, flooding in the Algiers neighborhood of Bab El Oued left nearly 1000 people dead and caused major damage.
Earthquakes sometimes strike in the north of the country. On May 21, 2003, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 on the Richter scale left 2200 dead and 15,000 homeless in Boumerdès. Less violent earthquakes occur regularly. To learn more about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Snowfall may occur in the winter and can cause widespread transportation disruptions.
Algeria suffers from a high number of road-related fatalities due to poor road conditions and driving habits. Despite an improvement in road security measures over the past few years, the number of incidents remains high. The Ministry of the Interior reported that approximately 12 people die per day in traffic incidents, a rate of approximately 4380 deaths per year.
Travel by road outside of cities is not advised. If traveling by car is unavoidable, do so in a convoy of several vehicles equipped with emergency communication devices (e.g. satellite telephones). Roadside ambushes are infrequent but at least four separate incidents occurred in 2016, leaving several Algerian citizens dead. In all cases, it is preferable to travel with a local.
Military and police checkpoints are common on major roads within large cities and throughout the countryside. Security personnel at these checkpoints expect full cooperation. For these and other reasons, air travel is preferred inside the country.
If taking a taxi, ask your hotel to recommend a reliable company and do not allow other unknown passengers to join you during the journey. Arrange for the driver to collect you for the return journey as taxis are not widely available, particularly after dark.
Travel by train is possible between Algiers and Oran but is not recommended.
The SNCM ferry company (La Société Nationale Corse Méditerranée) serves both Algiers and Skikda from Marseille, and Oran from Alicante (Spain). The ferry transports both cars and people. It is advised to arrange for your pick up from the port of arrival in advance.
Algiers-Houari Boumediene International Airport (ALG) is located in the southeast of the capital and adheres to international air safety standards. While security measures are not on par with those of US airports, security personnel are present throughout the airport. The government has recently taken steps to improve airport security.
The north of the country, including along the coastline and the Tell Atlas mountain chain, has a Mediterranean climate (hot and dry summers, cool and wet winters). The high plateau regions in the center of the country are semi-arid while the area south of the Saharan Atlas chain is desert.
Temperatures can vary significantly within a single day, particularly in the Sahara Desert where temperatures can fluctuate between extremes in the space of a few hours (above 40°C during the day and below 5°C at night).
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz